Category Archives: Federal Government

Legislation would make it easier for service members to vote

Mike Horace

The State House is considering legislation making it easier for members of the armed forces to vote from overseas.

Right now, U-S military personnel trying to vote from overseas are at the mercy of the mail service.

That’s how they receive registration forms and absentee ballots, and it can be a rather time consuming affair.

State Representative Rick Outman is trying to change that. He wants to
use the internet to eliminate part of the mailing process.

“Via email, they can download their ballot, and their registration, and do everything all at once.”

Outman said it is much easier for soldiers to send out mail than receive it.

He said his legislation will simplify the process, and encourage more soldiers to vote from overseas.

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Levin praises President Obama’s State of the Union Address

U-S Senator Carl Levin is praising President Obama’s State of the Union address last night.

He spoke with Mike Horace earlier today.

Levin says he was particularly encouraged by job training proposals for the manufacturing industry, and by the president’s calls for tax reform.

Levin said he’s ready to get to work…

“I’m going to be focusing on some of the tax loopholes and the evasion of taxes, the avoidance of taxes, by some of our corporations who use the offshore tax havens and shell corporations to avoid paying taxes, some of the other corporate tax loopholes that need to be closed because it’s part of the unfairness in our tax code that needs to be fixed and can be fixed. But it’s also a source of revenues, which we’re going to have to have if we’re going to, number one, do some significant deficit reduction, but number two, protect some of our important programs like education.”

U-S Senator Carl Levin, speaking with us from Washington D-C earlier this morning.

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GOP Senatorial Debate

Warnings about spending and the creeping of socialism into American society emerged from Saturday’s G-O-P Senatorial debate in Mount Pleasant.

Five candidates took the stage, each one, hoping to go on to challenge U-S Senator Debbie Stabenow in November.

Chuck Marino of Brighton was among the candidates saying the U-S must fight back against socialism.

“In today’s society, we have a group of people who are socialists, that believe they can walk outside the parameter with no restraint. It’s time that we used the constitution to call them back.”

Marino warned that spending tied to the new national health care law, as well as various welfare programs, was unsustainable.

Former juvenile court judge Randy Hekman agreed. He said deep spending cuts are in order.

“Repealing Obamacare has to be near the top of our agenda. That is a big chuck of change that has taken over an increasing part of our economy. But beyond that, the one thing that does not fit our federal government is the welfare state. It’s killing our European brothers and sisters. It’s killing us.”

Notably absent from the debate was former congressman Pete Hoekstra, who is considered the front runner in the race.

Longtime education reformer Clark Durant criticized Hoekstra’s decision not to participate.

“At some point, he’s got to be willing to stand up to the people of Michigan, and answer, why, time and time again, he voted to increase the debt, the spending, that is crippling our country.”

A long race is still ahead for all the candidates.

Republicans will chose their nominee to challenge Debbie Stabenow in August.

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Levin calls for payroll tax cut extension

The U-S Senate is racing to avert an increase in the nation’s payroll taxes.

Payroll taxes were cut last year, and would revert to previous rates if action isn’t taken by the end of this month.

That rate would return to six-point-two percent and Senator Carl Levin of Michigan said that would cost middle-class families upwards of a thousand dollars per year.

He wants congress to extend the tax cuts, and pay for the extension with a surcharge on people making more than a million dollars per year.

“It’s really unthinkable that you would raise taxes on 160 million families in order to protect a few hundred thousand families who make more than a million dollars a year.”

Levin said failure to extend the payroll tax cut could push the country back into recession.

The senate is hoping to move the legislation by the end of this week.

Copyright 2010, MPRN

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Snyder could veto first bill this week

By Rick Pluta

The first veto of a bill sent to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk by legislative Republicans could be coming this week. The governor has until Friday morning to sign or reject a measure that would make it harder to enact state rules that are stricter than federal standards.
The bill said state agencies cannot enact rules covering things such as workplace safety or environmental protection that are stricter than federal rules unless the Legislature passes a law to allow it. The bill would allow an exception for emergencies.

Sara Wurfel is the governor’s press secretary. She said the bill is being reviewed, but the governor and his team think it may go too far.

“Basically, tying Michigan’s hands to do what it needs to do to protect the state and its citizens.”

The governor has tried to protect his working relationship with conservative lawmakers from his own party who sometimes disagree with Snyder’s more-centrist leanings. The governor has vetoed some budget line items, but this would be the first time he vetoes an entire bill and returns it to the Legislature.
Copyright 2010, MPRN

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Police can keep seized medical marijuana

By Rick Pluta

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said police departments should hang on to the cannabis they seize from medical marijuana patients and caregivers, even though state law says their pot should be returned to them.

Schuette gave that advice in a formal opinion that’s binding on government agencies unless it’s reversed by a court. The state medical marijuana law that was adopted by voters in 2008 said medicinal cannabis cannot be seized as long as the owner is a registered cardholder. But Schuette said that part of the law is superseded by the federal Controlled Substances Act, which still lists marijuana as an illegal drug. Schuette said police officers who have seized medical marijuana in violation of the state law cannot return it without violating the federal law, which would open them to prosecution as drug dealers. 

Schuette said the U-S Constitution’s supremacy clause makes clear the national policy trumps the state’s. And he said voters cannot order police officers to violate a federal law.

© Copyright 2010, MPRN

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Michigan Selected by The Obama Admistration For Nation’s Pilot Progam

By David Nicholas

Michigan has been selected by the Obama Administration, HUD and USDA Rural Development to launch the nation’s first pilot program that is designed to reduce regulatory procedures on affordable housing developers and owners.

The program is also meant to help state and federal agency staffs to more efficiently serve low-income families who rent their homes.

USDA Rural Development State Director James Turner was in Mt. Pleasant recently for the signing of the agreement.  He said the partnership that also includes the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) is bringing together all of the departments that are involved with financing multi-family housing…

“Rural Development is invested in about 729 properties across the state.  That represents about 18,000 units for low-income and disabled and elderly individuals. And many of these projects have multiple layers of financing that involve MSHDA and HUD and Rural Development and all are subject to, uh, what we call “subsidy layering reviews.”

That, Turner said, is technical jargon for, in his words, “Making sure that we’re not over-spending tax dollars on subsidies for these units.”

He said there will now be one survey instead of three or more of any given property to simplify the information on file.

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Black Lawmakers to Ask Federal Court to Throw Out New District Maps

By Rick Pluta

A coalition of African-American and civil rights groups is expected to challenge Michigan’s new congressional and legislative district maps approved earlier this year by the Republican controlled Legislature. The leader of a group of African-American lawmakers say he expects the lawsuit to be filed in federal court by the end of the month.

State Representative Fred Durhal chairs the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus. He said the new maps violate voting rights laws. He said that’s because they diminish the voting power of urban minority voters and the evidence of that is how many Democratic incumbents from minority districts will be forced next year to run against each other.

“We want to see new lines drawn that are more fair than the lines that we have and that recognize and allow all African-American and minority citizens in this state to be able to participate in the franchise.”

Republican leaders say a court challenge to any redistricting plan is normal, and was entirely expected. G-O-P leaders say the maps reflect population shifts, and they were very careful to comply with the law.

Copyright 2010, MPRN

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New Revenues Must Be Part of Deficit Plan

By Mike Horace

Senator Carl Levin said new revenue must be part of any deficit reduction package.

A special congressional committee the so-called “super committee” is looking looking at ways of trimming the nation’s deficit.

Levin said the committee is right to look at spending cuts, but new revenue must be considered as well.

“The issue is whether we’re going to have revenue, or whether the republican folks that are mostly connected to the tea party are going to be able to keep to their line in the sand, which is ‘no new revenues.’”

Senator Levin has released a seven-point plan on how to raise revenue and cut the deficit by up to a trillion dollars.

We’ll have more on that plan, ahead at 5:45 on All Things Considered.

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Romney homecoming overshadows Perry on Mackinac

By Laura Weber

Mitt Romney dominated the presidential candidate straw poll this weekend during the Michigan Republican Party conference on Mackinac Island.

Romney and Rick Perry both spoke at the conference, but fervor for Romney swept over the island. Many delegates said the Michigan native offers hope of turning Michigan a red state in the upcoming presidential election.

It was clear from the beginning of the weekend that Mitt Romney’s homecoming was eagerly anticipated. Many folks wore Romney t-shirts or stickers, and hung Romney signs around Mackinac Island.

But not everyone was sold on the former Massachusetts governor. Gary Glenn a conservative Republican candidate for the U-S Senate said he was more interested in hearing what Texas Governor Rick Perry had to say.

“Governor Perry has a record. They’re a Right To Work state, Michigan is a compulsory unionism state. And so there is a clear comparison that you can make between the state that is No. 1 in the nation in job creation, the state that’s No. 50 for having lost the most manufacturing jobs.”

There was some marked anticipation for Governor Perry’s presence. Party members stood in a long, claustrophobic line to flood the dining room where Perry would speak, waiting to see just what the Texan could offer Michigan. Perry told the crowd right off that he did not want to disappoint them.

“We were coming up here and they said ‘Don’t mispronounce the island’s name.’ So it is an honor to be on Mackinac Island, let me tell you ladies and gentlemen! What a beautiful place.”

Perry said Michigan is the source of a fond boyhood memory.

“Dad said ‘Listen, I’ll just drive up to Michigan,” and I think he went to Flint, or actually I think he went to Fenton to pick up a new GMC pick-up truck.”

The crowd often clapped supportively and politely, with occasional cheers. But nothing and no one stood a chance with the audience once Romney entered the building.

“I love being in Michigan, I like people who know what Vernors is. I like people who when you ask them where they’re from they hold up their hand and point to a piece on their thumb. I love that…”

And the crowd went wild. Romney took on the air of a presidential Johnny Carson – drawing wild laughter and occasional tears. He told boyhood stories of time spent in Michigan with his father, former governor George Romney, and his wife, Ann, whom he said he fell in love with on Mackinac Island.

“It’s a wonderful place for us. It’s got special memories. Mitt mentioned we met when I was just 16…”

That’s Ann Romney.

“…He said ‘My father’s governor of Michigan.’ Obviously I knew that. ‘How about would you like to go up to Mackinac and stay in the governor’s mansion with my family.’ And I thought ‘That is a great idea.”

Audience members began clinking their forks on wine glasses, like a chorus of champagne flutes at a wedding.

“I don’t even know what… Oh!”

The crowd gave Mitt Romney four standing ovations, as if he were giving his first State of the Union address.

“What an incredibly beautiful place. And I might add, rather romantic as well.”

Don’t forget, though, that Rick Perry had come to the island too. Perry may not have the rich family history in Michigan that Romney has, nor can he point to a location on his hand to tell Michigan Republican Party members where he’s from. But he made an earnest plea to the state’s party faithful to take him seriously as a presidential candidate. And he assured them he took them seriously as well.

“Listen, you all did something this last election cycle that was pretty powerful. You elected a Republican Legislature and a Republican governor I know what that means! Rick Snyder is going to be out there every day knocking on doors in Texas, trying to get them to move jobs from Texas to Michigan. I understand that. And that is what it’s supposed to be about.”

In the end, Romney ran away with the straw poll. Perhaps not surprisingly.

“From a very selfish standpoint I think Mitt Romney, for a state race, for a Legislative race, for everything else, is good for us…”

That’s Saul Anuzis, one of Michigan’s representatives on the Republican national committee.

“…I mean having Mitt Romney at the top of the ticket would probably put Michigan in a play, which means there would be national resources diverted here and investments made that would be good for the rest of the party.”

The chairman of the state party, Bobby Schostak, said Romney’s name could appeal to Republican and independent voters in Michigan, and perhaps turn the state red for the first time since 1988.

Photo by Chelsea Hagger, MPRN

Copyright 2010, MPRN

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